Norton Introduces Bill to Rename Rock Creek Park “Rock Creek National Park”

Dec 8, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced a bill yesterday to rename Rock Creek Park “Rock Creek National Park,” which would highlight the significance of the park for the nation, including visitors to the nation’s capital, in addition to District of Columbia residents.  Norton said adding “National” will help recognize Rock Creek as one of the nation’s great historic parks, along with Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.  Rock Creek is the nation’s oldest urban park and the third oldest federal park.

“Rock Creek Park is one of the nation’s oldest and most historic parks and is a treasure not only to hundreds of thousands of D.C. residents, but to the millions who visit the nation’s capital each year,” Norton said.  “Formally recognizing Rock Creek Park as one of our country’s great national parks also will help encourage the necessary funding to support the park’s inviting trails, waterways and other unique features.”

Norton’s introductory statement is below.

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the Introduction of the Rock Creek National Park Act

Mr. Speaker, today, I introduce a bill to redesignate the National Park Service-owned Rock Creek Park, in the District of Columbia, as “Rock Creek National Park.”  Renaming this park will highlight its significance to the nation, including visitors to the nation’s capital, and will help get much-needed funding for the park’s inviting trails, waterways and other unique features.

Rock Creek Park is already a national park, established by Congress in 1890 “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States,” and is the oldest urban park and the third federal park ever created, after Yellowstone and Sequoia.  Rock Creek Park was designed to preserve animals, timber, forestry and other interests in the park, and to ensure that its natural state is maintained as much as possible, for all American people, not just for D.C. residents. 

Over time, several structures have been established or donated to further preserve Rock Creek Park.  In 1892, for example, the federal government acquired Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, one of the mills used by local farmers during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.  In 1950, the Old Stone House, located at 3051 M Street NW, with its great pre-Revolutionary War architectural merit, was acquired by the park.  The building was restored, and programs explain the house’s rich history from the colonial period to the present day.  The Fort Circle Parks were also acquired to interpret and preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington, which created a ring of protection for the nation’s capital during the Civil War. 

Today, Rock Creek Park offers residents of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia, as well as thousands of visitors, an escape from our increasingly urban environment.  Residents and tourists alike also enjoy many activities in the park’s 2,000 acres, including hiking and bike riding on the historical trails, horseback riding, picnicking, tennis and other recreational activities in some of the open fields.  Our residents have expressed their appreciation by volunteering to clean up and maintain the trails and waterways.

Redesignating Rock Creek Park as Rock Creek National Park will help recognize the national status of the park and protect and revitalize this remarkable resource in our nation’s capital. 

I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation.